Do You Need To Be Good At English To Be A Journalist?

Yes, you need to be good at English to be a journalist. There are many reasons for this but it all boils down to the fact that as a reporter or a correspondent, you need to be clear with the news you report. Since English is used as the medium of communication for print, broadcast and digital media outlets, it is only logical that those who bring the news to the people should do so with accuracy and clarity. Without these traits, you risk errors in reporting that could possibly lead to all sorts of legal issues—like having libel and slander complaints, just to name two, thrown against you.

You need to know how to use English correctly because news reporting is factual reporting that is sensitive to the progression of events. You need to know how to use the past, present, future, progressive and perfect tenses correctly in your retelling of a story. Good reporting also puts a premium on such topics as subject-verb agreement, the proper use of words and the ability to write a direct quote from a resource person in the news article correctly. All these require intimate knowledge of the English language.

Being good at English doesn’t only apply to journalists who work for print media. It also applies to those who are reporting for radio or television outlets. Strong verbal communication skills are necessary in this profession because clarity in reporting will also depend on how clearly they enunciate the words and mind their pauses.

The importance of practicing correct verbal English comes to the fore especially when a journalist is interviewing a resource person. Whether the interview is done live or not, reporters have to see to it that they are understood by the person they are interviewing. They have to know how to put together their thoughts properly and verbalize it in short sentences so that it will elicit an honest response from their sources. Sometimes, it may be necessary to rephrase the question if the journalist feels that the interviewee misunderstood the question based on his answer.

Another reason why you need to become good at English if you want to become a journalist is because the documents that you will be reading and inspecting about the things that you will report on are going to be written in English. You need to be able to understand what these manuals and documents are saying so that you can craft your report correctly.

The ability to speak and write in correct English is a necessary requisite in the journalism profession. If you cannot understand the difference between “adopt” and “adapt” or don’t know that proper nouns should be capitalized, perhaps it’s time to brush up on your English grammar skills. If you are interested in becoming a journalist, strengthening your language skills is of primary importance. Read good books, brush up on your grammar skills by pulling out your old high school references and continuing to practice writing and editing your own work. As your skill in using English correctly increases then so will your confidence as a journalist also improve.

Career Spotlight: Journalist

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